new york 2/14… first part

I left Seatac airport over two hours late last Friday, due to the arrival plane’s mechanical difficulties. Under the notion I’d be spending the night in Chicago, IL left me a) disappointed to think I wouldn’t even have time to make it downtown for a look around and b) that I truly wished to have a dash more enthusiasm for the Super Bowl in which case I could have at least been able to partake in the mass craze of blue and green jerseys and paraphernalia. Go Seahawks… and we all now know they did.

Flying out of Seattle and over the mountains…

NYC Feb 2014 wendyellenthomas.com

Incredible patterns we never consider when we are within them. Such a different perspective.

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Summer clips

Summer comes and goes quickly… As I mentioned we are back to school and ‘the routine’ while folks on Orcas are still enjoying the last scraps of summer till Labor Day. I’m enjoying our own last weeks of summer vicariously through our large roll of photo imports and the thankfully persisting warm days and evenings. So get comfy cause I got some highlights of summer photos to share!

Waking up at 4.30am at the Anacortes Inn, (it’s no Hilton but is clean and does the job) the day after landing in Seattle, patiently waiting for day break and letting my DOD (81yrs old) sleep till we can’t take it anymore… The first glimpse of summer from the Anacortes ferry landing.

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New York City snapshots- Brooklyn to Upper East Side

I loved my four days in NYC. Both great quality time and fun do nothing time with my son and plenty of plodding around the city on my own. Each of my five of my senses, often simultaneously stimulated, could give you a recount of how we spent the days. Here is a visual recap with some support from the others.

I had a fun morning in Brooklyn visiting with my niece who pushed about eight pounds of fruits and vegetables through a juicer to produce two large gorgeous glasses of fresh juice. Sweet from the apple, with a bite from the kale, plus a hint of lemon, a reprieve from my days of indulgence. This deserved a photo but I was to wrapped up in the moment. So nice to have a few quiet moments face to face to catch up a little. Before wandering from her apartment we watched a NYPD traffic van illegally back up and rear end another car. Ouch. Also wrapped up in that moment, the cars were clearing as I thought to get my camera. Auditory… check.

From her apartment I wandered down Myrtle Ave, past Fort Greene Park in the direction of Pratt. As I mentioned, my grandparents met at Pratt Institute in 1924, fell in love and produced my father. Tragically, my grandfather, out for a spin on a buddy’s new motorcycle, died in an accident on that spur of the moment trip around the block. He left behind a small toddler and a woman who I believe lost her true love. But all events lead us to today and here I am, grateful.  Willie Thomas, my father, jazz musician and a legend in his own mind, also spent many years in this same neighborhood as a doorman by day and a fierce horn blower by night. I snapped shots of interest as I walked.

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new york city the first day

new york city the first day

I arrived into JFK in pretty good shape. I stay hydrated with water and emergen-C’s and put lotion on my hands and face about every hour to combat the plane air sucking the life and elasticity out of my skin. Our section was so open it really lent itself to a relaxed flight. People= energy.  Few people=calm. I’m sure the flight crew enjoyed the break too. My only complaint was I didn’t start Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy early enough to be finished before the “entertainment portion of our flight” switched off. Damn you flight attendant lady. This is a very confusing movie. Not one to be watched on a 5×5 screen with poor sound quality. And missing the last fifteen? minutes didn’t help. It’s on the rental que!

A long rainy traffic filled hour later I arrived at my big kid’s apt. We ordered in and relaxed. Talked about life and the next few days. I enjoyed the fact that these days ahead were going to unfold. No big agenda’s or script to follow.

I woke up my first full day here imagining what it would be like to wake up in this city everyday. Such an array of so many really different people with such vast cultural and economic diversity.  So many thoughts traveling through so many minds every morning before millions of feet hit the floor.

My thoughts started about 4.30am. I actually try to stay on an early track for these short trips to ease the transition back. I walked out the door about 10am and started at the bottom of Broadway (downtown) and made my way to Madison Square Garden. The day went a little something like this…

We all know how many hundreds/thousands of food stands are  on the streets here. I love them all.

But this cupcake one deserved a snap shot

These got me thinking, “I would like to have something sweet now”… O’s line following a meal. So I just happened to pass this great specialty food store you might have heard of and got myself a chocolate chip crumb cake with a fantastic proportion of crumb to cake. Like a lot of crumb. Good crumb I might add.

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On the move- New York City

On the move- New York City

I gave Chloe a big goodbye squeeze and kiss just yesterday morning before we left the house to drop her off at school and take me to the airport. Definitely no PDA at school… or within twenty feet of school. Or anywhere there might be peers. Although I did get a hug once in the mall with a circle of nearby friends. I smiled and she said, “yeah you owe me”.

Gave another big squeeze and big kiss to O at the Hamburg airport. I thank them both for giving me the freedom to take this trip.    I love you O!  I headed through security for my first strip down. I had the good fortune to be flying out at the same time as a very close friend, Teri. I had oodles of time so we had coffee and window shopped. We chatted about the differences between the states and Germany. I have to remember to appreciate the qualities of each in the moment and not yearn for one when I’m in the other. High on the German list is healthcare. It’s really unbelievable.

I arrived in London in a short ninety minutes. Walking around I enjoyed the freedom of thought, comprehension and communication in the old mother tongue. I stopped at WH Smith….

and devoured the English magazines…

I skimmed the gossip mags I hate to buy… the Brits love their Hello as seen by the magazine ravaging.

and bought Elle (for Tina Fey interview…oh fine… and the fantasy of getting really stylish), Photography for Beginners and UK Delicious.

                                                                 

Bags and bags of candy….I passed on these. Although I love twix.

but had to search hard for some good dark chocolate… which i did… and found…

At lunch I stopped at EAT, I realized my down vest had been on backwards since the last security…

Turkey breast and cranberry sandwhich, carrot mango lime juice and a millionaire’s shortbread.

pretty fresh for the airport…

I love airports. I think I observe more of the people and environment when I’m on my own. I even understood the guy next to me talking with his mouth full. gross. And then on the phone smacking his gums and chatting. wow.

A second security check and five wisecracks later I sat waiting to board for the long haul. I love the HSBC ads all over Heathrow…

On the plane I was almost excited to be there for eight straight hours. A couple movies, nap and reading…. and a row of four seats to myself!  SWEET. I love these new milk sticks… clever.

Ok… tomorrow a little look into NYC… wt

Seville part 3 – tapas & streetlife

Seville part 3 – tapas & streetlife

The atmosphere and vibrancy of Seville, influenced I’m sure by the sun and warmth, is something to behold.  It’s one of those places I plan to return. Someday, I’ll spend a month reading, writing, walking and eating….. and blogging.

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People enjoy being outside day and night. Who wouldn’t when the sun shines and the air is cool. I’ll remind you I did grow up in Florida, and too much of anything, including sun, has its downside. But my life with sun was like 2+ decades ago. So at this point sun everyday sounds dreamy.

And how about a little street music?

 

 

 

 

 

Or iceskating?

And they are still out at night…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honestly, I couldn’t get enough of the fresh oj and coffee. I like my coffee strong with a little milk and pretty sweet. The sugar packets in this country were fat with about 3tsp of sugar/pkt.

 

 

One morning we bought churros for a euro at a little mini booth, took them next door, sugared them up and ate with… you guessed, sweet coffee. Once again, a photo after being half eaten. I just can’t get the camera out before I start chowing.

And lastly, as I’m all jazzed up about this video option… a parade clip.

Seville Pt. 2 New Years Eve

Seville Pt. 2 New Years Eve

After our paella, we were out the door to Plaza Santa Cruz, about an 8 minute walk from our apartment, to watch a flamenco performance in a little place called Tablao Flamenco Los Gallos. A first for all in our party, I myself, had no idea I would love it so much. I’m ready to plan a trip entirely devoted to flamenco. I’m dying to look up love stories between dancers, callers and guitar players. Inspired, I even wrote ideas of love stories down in my little notebook after the show. I’m sure completely original.

 

 
 “Flamenco, Andalucia’s soul-stirring gift to the world of music” (from Lonely Planet guide to Andalucia)

 

“Between 800 and 900 A.D., a large exodus of people occurred from the Punjabi region of India. These people are believed to be members of the Untouchables, a group within the Indian caste system comprised of animal traders and trainers, acrobats, dancers, musicians, palmists and metalworkers. These nomadic groups, generally referred to as Roman and/or gypsies, divided into two major migratory routes, the most traceable moving west across Asia and the European continent, including Spain. The first recorded account of Spanish Gitanos “Beticos” dates from 1447 in Barcelona.”

Read more: Flamenco Dance History

After the flamenco show, we walked round and round trying to figure out the “place to be” at midnight. We had almost given up when we noticed a general movement in one direction and decided to follow the herd. Sure enough we ended up in front of the town hall clock with the rest of those who chose to expose themselves to the public masses (well not that kind of expose…). As I was saying, there is a grape eating tradition on New Years. When the clock strikes twelve in Spain on New Years Eve, for each stroke you eat a grape. By the time the clock has finished chiming, everybody has to have finished their grapes and the New Year starts. If you manage to eat the 12 grapes before the 12th stroke, then you will have 12 months good luck.

Grapes and yet to be popped champagne in people’s hands, in the last 20 minutes of 2011, we inhaled the sights and sounds around us… the good and not so good. People were selling horns, party favors and grapes.  Finally, a few firecrackers went off just before the second hand moved to join the big hand at the 12…. We all stood waiting for the clock to chime but when the little hand started continuing on, we all realized shit, this things not ringing- people checked their cell phones holding them up displaying 12:01/12:02 to each other. We stuffed 12 grapes in our mouth, kissed while chewing and passed around happy new years to our loved ones and strangers. Only in Spain could new years be late.

We headed home back to our rooftop, lit small pieces of tissue paper containing our hopes, wishes and concerns on fire, giving them up to the universe, opted not to open a bottle of champagne but celebrated as if we had.

Seville Pt 1

Seville Pt 1

We arrived in Seville without problems, dropped the car rental off at the airport and taxied into the Santa Cruz barrio near the cathedral. Again in awe of the unknown we stared out the car windows grasping the newness of another city. Traveling with 5 now, required us to take two taxis and they clung to each other, front bumper to back, straight for 20 minutes through streets so small you could spit from one side to the other.


Our apartment, actually divided into 2 separate places, spewed charm and authenticity with a small central courtyard up through the 3 stories. The kids in one and O and I in the other. Plenty of privacy but we could check up on when they went to sleep at night through the random glass tiles in the floor. We enjoyed a rooftop terrace where the sun beat down in the day. Two straight, heavenly weeks of sun. Feel like I’m charging up a trunk load of D size batteries with sun to take back to hamburg.
Our days in Seville have been mixed with sightseeing, loads of walking and hours of reading. This is a place I’d like to return. I love the bells every morning at nine that chime long enough to wake the dead. They start at 9am and like a puntual snooze button again at 9.10 9.20 and finally at 9.30. The city wakes up.

The Alçazar palace on New Years Day was a highlight, but for me just walking, absorbing the vibrancy of this city, standing at a bar in the morning for cafe con leche and churros, standing at a bar at night for cerveza and tapas….brilliant. Our barrio (neighborhood) is probably the most popular for tourists, but I don’t mind. We did walk about 2 hours one morning north near the Macarena neighborhood, wandering the streets seeing a little more real daily life.

The Alçazar, originally a Moorish fort and now a Unesco World Heritage site is a royal palace that still serves the royal family in the upper quarters. I tried to imagine little children here. I could not. But I could see them in the beautiful garden chasing the peacock.

 

 

 

 

I preferred the Alçazar over the Alhambra partly because it was easier to take in and partly because we took it upon ourselves to tour and learn, instead of a guided tour. Wouldn’t you have liked to be the one to come up with the hand held guide in 13 different languages?

brains exploding with information

Varieties of jamon. I want to put one in my suitcase.

Following our tour of the Alçazar, our next stop was the grocery store for New Year’s Eve dinner. With the kids and costs, we weren’t particularly interested in the set menu options offered by restaurants. All I can say is wow. I love visiting food stores in foreign countries. Highlights were legs of jamon, an entire aisle of jarred olives, peppers and asparagus that you didn’t have to take out a second mortgage to afford, loads of crazy fish options, and enough tuna and anchovies to feed a pescatarian platoon. Love it.

New Year’s dinner was a simple paella with shrimp and chicken, then we headed out for the evening. I know I’m not winning any awards here with the pics but the tiled table was pretty.

Tarifa

Tarifa

We spent over 2 hours winding through the mountains. Never ending views of white washed villages, houses posed on sides of mountains, terraced almond and olive trees…. and me trying unsuccessfully to snap photos from a moving vehicle, hoping to catch one tenth of the beauty we witnessed.

We drove southwest from Ronda and as we approached Algeciras, we could already see Gibralter and its infamous rock. Oh how we wanted to stop. But it was already inching towards 4pm and if we made another stop… monkeys or no monkeys, I think the teens might have rebelled. Traveling with two teens, albeit lovely and respectful, fun and adventurous to a point, you must have some limits of how much you fit in. As our necks craned behind us, the rock got smaller, and we decided in wasn’t in the cards this trip, and we put it on the list for next time. The girls were happy knowing after 2.5 hours driving, we’d be in our next destination for 2 days. (So no, we really weren’t going to squeeze in Gibralter. Period.)

Tarifa, located at the southern most tip of Spain is only a 45 min fast ferry to Tangier. (also being saved for next trip)

Arriving in Tarifa, the first thing I saw were the wind energy generators. You know, those big 3 armed white steel things sticking in the ground. My picture wasn’t so hot but check out this photo of a wind farm. Spain is the 4th largest producer after China, US and Germany. Then we came round to the ocean… yes still from the moving vehicle. Continue reading

Ronda rocks

Ronda rocks

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No pun intended. The rock formations here are outstanding, but I like the feel of this place for some reason, even better than Granada. It is smaller, but no less touristy with the history, museums, incredible bridges built into the cliffs and its status as the home of bull fighting. We stayed in the lovely guesthouse La Boabdil .

The fact Hemingway and Orsen Wells spent many summers here, inspired by Ronda leads one to believe there is something to this place that evokes “the just something about this place” feeling. Possibly the natural beauty, cobbled streets or views seen in the shots below on one of our walks. I am also a sucker for agriculture and farms. I have an ongoing dialog in my dream world of living in the city for culture and stimulation, by an ocean, or back on a farm. One that might now include olive trees and citrus.

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How about fields of olives harvested between November and December within hand’s reach…Did you know Andalusia has over 40 million olive trees? Here’s a great site for basic facts on Spanish olive oil.

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I’m back now….got way side tracked on that link. I look forward to a full post on olive oil.
We also had the fortune to cross paths with friends from Orcas Island…go figure! We shared the morning with Lydia and John Miller and their three homeschooled boys, out on a 9 month European adventure. Check out their travels here- The Camel Ate My Homework.

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Now we head back to the coast…next stop Tarifa.
I thank you in advance for patience with mistakes here. Am learning mobile WordPress with dodgy wifi. But blessed with such a full head of hair, I can rip some off my head and you won’t even know. I’ll leave a few more photos here.

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